Defendant Sentenced to 18 Years on 11 Gram Federal Crack Conviction

It's very hard to explain to clients (and the public) that when a federal defendant goes to trial, unless he is acquitted of every count, he risks being sentenced not just for the counts he was convicted of, but also for the counts on which the jury found him not guilty.

Sentencing for acquitted conduct is expressly authorized by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The absurdity of the policy is illustrated very well by a sentence handed down this week by a federal judge in the District of Columbia. Antwuan Ball was convicted on a single count of distributing 11 grams of crack cocaine for $600.00. He was acquitted of racketeering, conspiracy, and every other crime, including murder.

The judge held Ball accountable for the conduct the jury found he did not commit, and sentenced him to 18 years. The Government had asked for 40 years, even though had Ball taken a plea deal before trial, and pleaded guilty to counts he was later found innocent of, it would have asked for 25 years.

This is stuff straight out of Alice in Wonderland. As Ball's lawyer wrote in a sentencing memo (available on PACER): [More...]

Not only does [the Probation Department's decision make Mr. Ball responsible for a quantity of crack cocaine 150 times the quantity supported by the jury verdict with respect to Count 22; but acquitted conduct also becomes the foundation upon which the Probation Office bootstraps enhancements for Mr. Ball’s supposed managerial role, his supposed use of a weapon, and his commission of a crime while on release -- all of which the Probation Office predicates on his involvement in conspiracies of which he was acquitted.

To endorse sentencing on this logic is to completely wipe out a defendant’s constitutional right to a jury trial; all the Prosecution need do is structure a sufficiently broad indictment that includes no more than one count on which they can confidently predict a conviction, present lots of witnesses without regard to their veracity and reliability, and, after the jury has predictably rejected virtually all of its evidence, obtain a sentence based on the crimes that were charged in the indictment without regard to the result at trial. It is a sentencing scheme straight from the mind of Lewis Carroll.

This was a trial that lasted months. The jury heard all the Government's witnesses and rejected their testimony on every count but one as to Mr. Ball.

On November 28, 2007, a jury acquitted Antwuan Ball of all but one of the counts with which he was charged in the indictment. Specifically, the jury found him guilty of Count 22, in which he was charged with the sale of 11 grams of cocaine base. On the other hand, the jury acquitted Mr. Ball of the far more serious charges in the indictment: Two homicides in which, but for the Court’s ruling that the Government’s notice was untimely, the Government would have been seeking the death penalty in the event of conviction; two conspiracies, one brought under the RICO Statute, in which the Government alleged that Mr. Ball had been the leader of a racketeering organization for 13 years and had committed numerous criminal offenses that were presented as acts of racketeering. (My emphasis.)

All it takes is conviction on any one count, and the Judge can for all practical purposes wipe out the jury's not-guilty verdicts, and sentence the defendant as if the verdicts had been guilty. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt and the right to be a trial by jury are thrown out the window.

To assist in sentencing, federal judges order the Probation Department to complete a pre-sentence report. For the facts, they typically rely on police reports and witness statements provided by prosecutors (a few federal judges won't allow this, but most do.)

So what does the Government do? It resubmits the witness testimony that the jury rejected to the Probation Department so it can find, by a lesser standard than that required at trial, that the Defendant committed the acts for which he was acquitted. As Ball's lawyer writes:

But as is now clear, the Government sees no difference between sentencing a person after conviction versus after acquittal: all it need do is present a series of charges (which in itself increases the likelihood of scoring at least one conviction) and for those charges on which the defendant is acquitted, select the best parts of the direct examination and send it over to the Probation Office who will dutifully read the one-sided account and, in the absence of any contrary evidence, determine that there is a “preponderance of evidence” to support the charge (a self-fulfilling prophecy if there ever were one since only one side of the story is presented), and like clockwork the defendant’s offense level has just been increased.

...The enormity of the Government’s arrogance in seeking such a sentence in the face of jury verdict that reflects its virtually total rejection of the Government’s case against Mr. Ball can best be appreciated if one considers the following fact: the Government was willing to accept a sentence of no more than 25 years pursuant to a plea bargain that would have required Mr. Ball to admit crimes that he did not commit and of which he has now been acquitted.

In addition to those being sentenced after trial, think how this affects a defendant deciding whether to go to trial or take a plea bargain. He may believe he's not guilty of all the charged crimes, but has to weigh the risk that if the jury finds he's guilty even of just one count, the Judge can sentence him to the same amount of time as if he'd been convicted on all counts. No wonder so few defendants in federal court go to trial. The penalty for going to trial and not getting an acquittal across the board, make trial far too risky an option.

If the judge just sentenced Ball on the count the jury convicted him on, the 11 grams of crack, his Guideline level would be 24 and, depending upon his criminal history category, his sentencing range would be between 51 and 71 months. (4.9 to 6 years.) Instead, by sentencing him on the counts he was acquitted of, the judge held him liable for 1.5 kilograms, 150 times more than he was found guilty of. Ball's lawyer wrote the guidelines for 1.5 kilos start at 188 months and go up, depending on criminal history.

The probation department and government also sought role in offense increases based on Ball having a supervisory role in the conspiracy. Even though he was acquitted of the conspiracy. Another Alice in Wonderland concept.

As Ball's lawyer argued:

The Government was given a full opportunity to prove the charges that it brought against Mr. Ball; it failed utterly. Accordingly, the Court should reject the Government’s effort, endorsed by the Probation Office, to have the Court impose a sentence based upon the charges that were brought rather than those that were proven.

The Judge, when sentencing Ball to 18 years this week, said he thought, based on the lesser preponderance of the evidence standard, that Ball had some role in the conspiracies he was acquitted of. What is the point of having a jury trial with a standard of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt if after the jury returns it's verdict, the judge can substitute his own opinion based on a lesser standard? Should Ball just be happy the Judge didn't agree entirely with the Government and Probation Department and whack him with 40 years?

This is an issue ripe for review. In Gall, Justice Scalia in his concurring opinion practically sent out invitations:

The door … remains open for a defendant to demonstrate that his sentence, whether inside or outside the advisory Guidelines range, would not have been upheld but for the existence of a fact found by the sentencing judge and not by the jury. 128 S. Ct. at 602-603 (Scalia, J., concurring).

Gall flows from Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000) and Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). In a nutshell, in Apprendi, the Supreme Court held that a defendant’s right to a jury trial under the Sixth Amendment mandated that “[o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory minimum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

In Blakely, the Court made clear that “the relevant statutory maximum” is not the maximum sentence a judge may impose after finding additional facts, but “the maximum [the Judge] may impose without any additional findings.” Id.

As Ball's lawyer explains,

In other words, the term “statutory maximum” in Apprendi did not mean the maximum sentence in a statute, but rather the top end of a Guideline range in a mandatory guideline sentence. This, of course, led directly to the result in Booker that resulted in the transformation of the mandatory guidelines into the advisory guidelines. More recently, the Supreme Court flatly stated that “if the jury’s verdict alone does not authorize the sentence … the Sixth Amendment requirement is not satisfied.” Cunningham v. California, 127 S. Ct. 856, 869 (2007).

Whether the Supreme Court will end the the unfairness is not known. In United States v. Watts, 519 U.S. 148 (1997) (per curiam), the Court held that “a jury’s verdict of acquittal does not prevent the sentencing court from considering conduct underlying the acquitted charge, so long as that conduct has been proved by a preponderance of the evidence.”

It seems like in the wake of Gall, Kimbrough, and Cunningham, the Court should reconsider and reverse Watts, ending the incredibly unfair practice of sentencing defendants based on conduct which a jury found they did not commit.

Added: Another irony: The sale Ball was convicted of occurred in 2001. He was charged in 2004 and has been held since without bond. He wasn't tried until 2007, and wasn't sentenced until this week, in 2011. Instead of getting released with a sentence of time served, which is what would have happened if he'd been sentenced on the 11 grams, he'll be doing many more years. The judge gave him credit for the time since 2004, and an additional 15 months for "delays." There is no parole in the federal system, you do 85% of the sentence. Unless he wins on appeal, he'll be doing another 8 years or so -- on top of the 7 he's already served.

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  • Display: Sort:
    What are the chances (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 08:04:23 AM EST
    that America will regain its sanity?

    How can this possibly be (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 10:01:00 AM EST

    What am I missing?

    Yeah, it screams 13th Amendment Violation (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 10:22:13 AM EST
    Just for starters anyway! (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 10:25:38 AM EST
    The 6th is the one I had in mind (none / 0) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 08:14:14 PM EST
    Can you briefly explain (none / 0) (#10)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 01:42:56 PM EST
    what connection you see between the "acquitted conduct" sentencing rule and the Thirteenth Amendment, Andy?

    The connection I see is as follows: (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 02:06:17 PM EST
    The judge will be sentencing an individual to "involuntary servitude" as "punishment for crime whereof the party shall [not] have been duly convicted."

    I'm not much for "plain meaning" readings, but I don't think there's any genuine ambiguity here.

    Of course, given that we can allow civil commitment in the face of this, I don't know where the doctrine stands.


    creative, but not persuasive (to me) (none / 0) (#12)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 02:58:10 PM EST
    The 13th Amend forbids the existence in the United States of slavery and other forms of "involuntary servitude."  It then allows an exception:  involuntary servitude (slavery-like conditions) may be imposed (perhaps shockingly, but this is what it appears to say) "as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted ...."  As explained in my longer post (#9), the 18-year sentence in this case was imposed "for [the] crime" of which the defendant was convicted, within the range of punishments authorized by Congress for that separate crime, after taking into account conduct underlying and essential to counts for which he was acquitted.  I can see where this system might be held to violate the Sixth Amendment right to jury trial (on the theory that the state is or ought to be bound by the verdict as a finding of fact, not as a mere "finding" that the burden of proof was not met), but I can't see it as punishment "for" any "crime" other than that of which the defendant was convicted.  Also, the 13th Amend does not say that all imprisonment as punishment for crime is a form of "involuntary servitude" that would otherwise be forbidden. It says (to me; and as I say, shockingly) that "involuntary servitude" can lawfully be used as a form of punishment.  That's not the same thing.

    It seems to me inescapable (none / 0) (#14)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 03:18:25 PM EST
    that a prison sentence is "involuntary servitude" within the meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment. If it were not, the "duly convicted" clause would be superfluous.

    You have convinced me that this is more complicated than I first thought. I suppose that the Thirteenth Amendment has nothing to say about sentencing determinations so long as there has been some kind of "due conviction." On further reflection, I think this just gives me deep pause about the power apparently given to judges in sentencing.  But criminal law does have a tendency to baffle me.



    That was the view of the courts from 1876 (none / 0) (#16)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 03:55:02 PM EST
    Without reading those cases (none / 0) (#22)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 06:31:33 PM EST
    I would say that the Thirteenth Amendment makes clear that "involuntary servitude" is not--or at least does not have to be slavery. The Virginia formulation seems to suggest that prisoners are without rights. And I think that's wrong.

    yes, that is exactly (none / 0) (#27)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 08:28:38 PM EST
    what the Va S.Ct. was saying (in 1876) - prisoners have no rights - and is exactly what the Supremes turned away from in 1974 (about five years or more behind the lower federal courts).

    Without defending it -- which I don't -- (none / 0) (#9)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 01:41:51 PM EST
    let me try at least to explain the legal theory behind the "acquitted conduct" rule in federal sentencing.  Congress establishes the statutory maximum (and any minimum) penalty for any crime, necessarily on a somewhat categorical basis.  The statutory maximum, presumably, is appropriate for the most aggravated instance of commission of a single offense of that kind, and the minimum (be it probation, a stand-alone fine, or a mandatory minimum prison term) is suitable for the most mitigated set of facts and circumstances that could surround a single instance of the offense.  Here, Congress had set a maximum term of life imprisonment for distribution of 50 grams or more of crack (since changed to 280 grams or more, but sadly not made retroactive) and a maximum of 40 years for sale of at least 5 grams (since changed to 28 grams, but not retroactively); for lesser amounts the maximum is 20 years.  A defendant can only be sentenced "for" what he was convicted of, but that sentence can fall, within the judge's discretion based on a long and vaguely-phrased list of pertinent factors, anywhere up to or below that maximum.  Those factors include the "history and characteristics of the offender" and the "nature and circumstances of the offense."  In weighing those factors, the judge must consider the Sentencing Guidelines, which use a formula called "relevant conduct" to exclude certain allegations of other misconduct, but also to require consideration of the surrounding circumstances of the offense of conviction, including whether it was part of a larger pattern and what harms resulted or were intended to result from the conduct. The judge, not the jury, decides contested facts about these circumstances, and uses a burden of proof of "a preponderance of the reliable evidence."  Because the Supreme Court has ruled that an acquittal on a criminal charge, for "collateral estoppel" purposes, only establishes the existence of a reasonable doubt, it is not logically inconsistent to find some fact to be true by a preponderance of the evidence that the jury has rejected on the reasonable doubt standard.  Bottom line: the judge can then find that the single sale of 11 grams, punishable by anything from 5 years' imprisonment to 40 years' imprisonment under the then-applicable statute, was not an isolated incident, occurred as part of a larger conspiracy in which the defendant had a role higher than street-corner dealer, etc.  In this way he is sentenced, in a sense on account of the "acquitted conduct" -- but of course, legally, he hasn't been acquitted of that "conduct" but rather of the other offenses.  (By the way, I am inferring that the judge here in effect refused to consider the since-repealed 40-year max for this quantity of crack and instead decided to consider only sentences up to the 20-year max that would now apply.) The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this system against a Double Jeopardy challenge in Watts v. United States (1997).  It remains subject to other challenges, and is often challenged, but so far uniformly unsuccessfully.

    Many district court judges have rejected it (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 03:05:01 PM EST
    While Peter is right that most appeals courts have ratified the practice, many district court judges have repudiated it. It not only violates the 6th Amendment right to a jury trial, but the provisions of 18 usc 3553 (a).

    See District Judge Walter Kelley in US v Ibanga, No. No. 2:04cr227 (E.D. Va. Oct. 5, 2006)

    Sentencing a defendant to time in prison for a crime that the jury found he did not commit is a Kafka-esque result.... [But rather than reach a definitive constitutional ruling on this practice after Booker, the] Court instead concluded that basing defendant Ibanga's sentence on the crimes for which he was acquitted would contravene the statutory factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)....

    Punishing defendant Ibanga for his acquitted conduct would have contravened the statutory goal of furthering respect for the law and would have resulted in unjust punishment for the offense for which he was convicted (i.e., money laundering). 18. U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(A). From defendant Ibanga's perspective, a Guidelines sentence would certainly have resulted in confusion as to the law, and confusion breeds contempt.  ... What could instill more confusion and disrespect than finding out that you will be sentenced to an extra ten years in prison for the alleged crimes of which you were acquitted?  The law would have gone from something venerable and respected to a farce and a sham....

    The jury as an institution not only guards against judicial despotism, but also provides an opportunity for lay citizens to become both pupils of and participants in our legal and political system....  A sentence that repudiates the jury's verdict undermines the juror's role as both a pupil and participant in civic affairs. The juror as pupil learns that the law does not value the results of his or her participation in the judicial process and may reject it at will.

    The Watts case was per curium only. It's time for it to be overruled. The guideline on relevant conduct that permits consideration of uncharged and acquitted conduct by a judicial finding and standard of preponderance of the evidence violates the 5th and 6th amendments and 18 USC 3553. Just to name a few.


    Yes, thanks TL ... I should have included (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 03:23:46 PM EST
    that under the present federal sentencing regime any judge who believes the "relevant conduct" rule, including but not limited to its "acquitted conduct" component, leads to a sentence that is "greater than necessary" in the particular case, as mandated by 18 USC 3553(a), has authority not to follow that rule (after "considering" it). That sentence should then be upheld on appeal if the rejection of the rule, in the case at hand, was "reasonable." I was only trying to explicate, more or less in plain English, the rationale that courts use for holding the rule to be constitutional, in response to BTD's incredulous (and reasonable) question.

    But not the DC Circuit & Court of Appeals (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 04:07:30 PM EST
    They may want to overturn their own precedence, but for now, it's binding in DC.

    From your link:

    In 2008, the D.C. Circuit affirmed an acquitted conduct sentence in another case where the defendant, Tarik Settles, was convicted on a count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was acquitted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and of using a firearm during a drug-trafficking offense.

    Settles appealed his 57-month sentence, arguing the judge relied on conduct of which had been acquitted in enhancing his sentence.

    The appeals court upheld the sentence, ruling that the long-standing precedent of the appeals court and of the Supreme Court "establish that a sentencing judge may consider uncharged or even acquitted conduct in calculating an appropriate sentence."

    The ruling also noted, however, many judges and commentators have argued that acquitted conduct sentencing to increase a defendant's sentencing "undermines respect for the law and the jury system."

    No, you misunderstand the precedent, JB. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 04:39:35 PM EST
    A judge who follows the "relevant conduct" rule and includes "acquitted conduct" in assessing the sentence will be upheld under that precedent if the resulting sentence is otherwise "reasonable."  The point that TL made, and which I then endorsed, is that a sentencing judge has discretion to reject the rule in his or her application of section 3553(a), which is the law that defines the federal judge's duties at sentencing.  The judge who refuses to sentence on the basis of "acquitted conduct" should also be upheld on appeal.  The "acquitted conduct" doctrine, in other words, has not been invalidated and therefore must be "considered" under governing statutory law, but under that same law it need only be "considered" and need not be implemented in the final exercise of the judge's discretion.

    But in this case (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 06:10:57 PM EST
    Isn't the judge applying the same "acquitted conduct" rule, for which there is precedent in DC?

    On the face of this post, this seems like a pretty outrageous sentence.  I would be interested to see more information from the probation report.


    But isn't that the problem.... (none / 0) (#30)
    by Rojas on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 07:23:53 AM EST
    The probation report will contain allegations rejected by the jury? The government will simply re-submit the allegations and the judge can apply a different standard "by the preponderance of the evidence" that nullifies the jury verdict.

    Looking up Castillo this morning I saw a recent decision reaffirming in UNITED STATES v. O'BRIEN

    I think it's instructive to note that "The Government moved to dismiss count four on the basis that it would be unable to establish the count beyond a reasonable doubt." and sought to argue this beyond the jury as a sentencing factor.

    Count four charged respondents in more specific terms, alleging use of a machinegun (the Cobray) in fur-therance of a crime of violence,

    That must be some Orwellian world you live in if you support this kind of manipulation of due process protections.


    Isn't this the same theory that (none / 0) (#20)
    by Rojas on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 05:55:05 PM EST
    Walter Smith used to overturn the jury verdict for the Branch Davidian criminal trial?

    I think that may have been a little different with the jury finding of not guilty on the predicate offense but their confusion leading a guilty finding on the lessor included charge.

    That did eventually make it to the SC with the high court upholding the decision. They did slap them back however on the use of enhanced weapons in the sentencing guidelines holding that those were a fact for the jury.

    The logic escapes me.


    That's awful (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 08:12:25 PM EST
    The Supreme Court said that? My gawd.

    Yup, in a per curiam (summary) reversal (none / 0) (#26)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 08:25:41 PM EST
    of the Ninth Circuit.  But the vote was 7-2, and that was more than a decade ago and prior to the more recent explosion of Sixth Amendment jury clause case law.  And it's by far the most widely despised rule in all of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.  So this precedent really is ripe for overturning.

    The individual impact of our plea bargaining (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by BobTinKY on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 10:47:06 AM EST
    "rules" can be awful, as here. On a more macro level the system enables politicians to be "tough on crime," & engage in grandstanding with little if any consideration of the limited resources of our criminal justice system.  Instead of having to rationally prioritize & allocate those resources to deter and protect society against that conduct that is most threatening, we have instead created end runs around jury trials & other Constitutional guaranties in order to process the increasing amounts of activities that many politicians have built a career on criminalizing.  

    Mr. Ball's sentence is best understood as the penalty for having put the Government through the trouble of a trial.  The conduct being deterred is not so much the sale of crack cocaine as it is the harm to the efficient operation of the plea bargaining system that prosecutors & courts rely upon to handle their caseload.  And the more cases that can be efficiently processed through the system more our politicians feel free to add to that caseload.  

    As a society we need to think much more rationally about what conduct we really want to tie up scarce resources prosecuting and penalizing, & resist the temptation to ignore that part of the analysis and compromise Constitutional guaranties & any sense of fairness in the process.  I would argue re-examination of our drug laws, with all the attendant crimes that flow from the illegality of drugs, would be a great place to start.  

    What (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 05:07:14 AM EST
    are the chances that Ball can win on appeal?

    Very low, on this issue (none / 0) (#28)
    by Peter G on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 08:31:39 PM EST
    for the reason given by "jbindc" at #21.  The issue is being teed up for later presentation to the Supreme Court, where there is at least some chance, as we've been discussing in a number of the comments on this thread.

    REGAIN its sanity? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Yes2Truth on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 09:35:12 AM EST

    Seriously, what sanity are you referring to?  It's been about 90 years since the first of our Jim Crow
    drug laws was passed, and so how can any rational person say our system of jurisprudence is any more enlightened than what most of the world has?

    In fact.  Never mind. Not worth it to risk being censored for saying what I, and many other people believe is the truth about our system of government.

    Excellent THINKING, BobTinKY (none / 0) (#8)
    by Yes2Truth on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 11:17:56 AM EST

    Just one thing.  What society thinks doesn't matter unless pressure is brought to bear on our government, which is composed of mainly right-wing politicians.  Ditto the entire criminal justice system.

    An obvious counter attack is right in front (none / 0) (#19)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 05:48:23 PM EST
    of your faces but you're too busy fulminating and venting and enjoying your righteous indignation to use it.  

    Every time an outrageous sentence is handed down by a apparatchik like the judge in question, the lawyers for the defense should note for the record, and later, outside the courtroom, for the cameras, the tea party, and anyone else who will listen, the consequent cost to the taxpayer of such outrageous sentences.  

    20 years?  $1 million, easy.  40 years?  $2 million.  Time in a supermax?  God only knows.

    Who got sentenced, the lowlife or the taxpayer?

    The answer is obvious.

    The Bureau of prisons will lie in self defense but the proof is easily found.  Divide the BOP budget by the number of prisoners.  Fight back.  Quit wasting your time on sophistries.

    that hardly helps Mr. Ball (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 07:44:08 PM EST
    who will remain in jail. Or the others similarly sentenced.

    Educating the public is important, which is why I wrote the post in the first place. But the quickest fix is if the Supreme Court decides the issue based on its recent case law.

    The cost of imprisonment is $23,000 per year. Incarcerating Ball for an extra ten years amounts to an extra $230,000.

    The cost of imprisonment is a good argument to make in a lot of cases, but has nothing to do with Mr. Ball. This case is about the judge's substituting his own view of Ball's conduct for the jury's, by a lesser standard of proof.


    crimes he did not commit? (none / 0) (#29)
    by diogenes on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 10:04:49 PM EST
    All the jury acquittal shows is that the case that Ball committed the other crimes was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    "the Government alleged that Mr. Ball had been the leader of a racketeering organization for 13 years and had committed numerous criminal offenses that were presented as acts of racketeering."

    Does anyone here really think that Mr. Ball was a Sunday School teacher and that the government mistakenly confused him with a criminal leader?